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I wish you hadn’t said that…

Here are some examples of what you might call “unintentional foreshadowing”:

  • We don’t need to tape down that cable. No one’s going over there.
  • I’m pretty sure everyone has that font.
  • It’s a brand new projector. Why should we spend that much money on a backup bulb?
  • They had a pipe burst the last time we did a meeting there. There’s no way anything like that can happen again.
  • Don’t worry, this guy is really good, he doesn’t need rehearsal.
  • Of course she’s using the official slide template you sent her last month.
  • Just leave it there, no one is going to mess with it.
  • I’m sure it’s safe to use that indoors.
  • Don’t worry, it’s supposed to do that…

Did any of these invoke a sense of foreboding for you? Does the sound of someone tempting fate set off alarm bells?

Phrases like “I’m pretty sure”, “there’s no way”, “don’t worry”, and “of course” can be your friends. Recognize these little understated warnings for what they are, determine if the easy dismissal they represent conceals a genuine risk, and do a little preemptive follow up if necessary to head off any problems.

Have you ever said or been within earshot of someone else saying something that turned out, in retrospect, to be unfortunately prophetic?

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